Welcome A.K. Moss.
It is a pleasure to have A.K. Moss here today. She is the author of a Young Adult trilogy, two finished novels and a third in the works. These books are of a family story, if you will, that exposes loss, courage and healing. Let’s take a closer look and learn about the Cason family out of Oregon and their tie to horses.
Unspoken is your first YA novel. Tell about your main character.
When I wrote, I never really thought about age, gender or even a plot for Unspoken. I wanted the Cason family to be as strong as I thought our family was, but as I think about it, I feel the Western lifestyle creates strong families. There are tough choices and decisions to make and sometimes it is not the right one, but it is made just the same. When I was dealing with so many horses and so many different people, I recognized some people. Well, most people have a goal in mind when they get a horse – me included – and some expect that horse to know what that goal is, without understanding the unspoken language that the horse has to offer.
Such as loading a horse in a trailer. If they have never been in a trailer before, there might be a little hesitation- Now if there is no understanding between person and horse there could be a disagreement or a battle of the wills. This situation brought onto a human level would be like a guy that only speaks Japanese, and with sign language and a rope, attempt to tell me to get into a coffin so he could close the lid. Not going to happen! Not without some sort of understanding.
Sorry about the lesson, now back to: Why Paige? I think that Paige opens up an avenue to youth and curiosity, while releasing the expectation of learning and teaching an adult. It makes it a little easier to understand without judgment of teaching an adult. Such as in the story, when John Greenly is trying to understand Abe’s actions on working with Piper the horse. John really tried to open up his mind, yet his mind was busy on other things that he needed to do. He was looking for results. It took him a while to set aside his judgment, wait, watch and understand.
Tell us how you developed your story, and when you find the time to write?
I started “Unspoken” and even the sequel, “Finding Home,” from beginning to end with no plot or layout in mind. I just wrote what I wrote, because I wrote it. I guess in a way it is my saving grace, a place I can release my imagination and let words flow on paper mixing some of my experiences to create a story that might give insight or inspire someone to do something different or take the next step. When do I find time to write, well, usually about two or three in the morning, I can stay up until five, sleep till six, be to work by eight. But lately I have been taking some mornings, staying home and getting a few more chapters in. That is happening more frequently.
You weave in a lot horse training scenes that deal with Natural Horsemanship – What is your own experiences with horses?
In growing up, we as a family never really fit into society, if you will; we didn’t have stuff – we had horses. To give you an example that might help make you understand, when I was seven, my two brothers my sister, mom and I, lived under a two-ton truck for a summer. Mom called it vacation, while others might of called it homeless. But whatever it was, we had our horses and we had our freedom. When I went to school, I felt out of place, never fit in anywhere except in the horse corral because the horses didn’t care if my socks matched or not. They never questioned me about my clothes and didn’t care what kind of grades I got. It was just me and the horse trying to get by the best we could with what we had.
My second dad (after the truck) was a horse trader. He would buy troubled horses, bring them home, and we would work them for a month or two. When I would get home from school there would be a new horse in the corral. I couldn’t tell you how many horses we saved from the slaughter house. Papa seldom let me ride them first off; he had me busy in the corrals doing the ground work. If I wasn’t teaching a colt to saddle or a pony to pull, then I was teaching a mustang to lead, or a draft horse colt to harness. In the solace of the corral I learned or began to understand a silent language. “Learned” I think is too strong of a word. I don’t think I could count how many horses I had the opportunity to work, each one taught me something different. I learned by experience but as I grew up I sought out books by Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance and Buck Brannaman, I loved to read about them and their techniques, but when it came down to it, it was the horse that was my teacher.
Your second book is Finding Home which is ten years later. Why then?
I don’t rightly know. I entered a contest where I had to write a novel in 72 hours, minimum 100 pages, and this is what came out of my pen. I typed 102 pages in that time, was so proud until I hit format and it only came up to 98 pages. It was amazing to see the story come to life before my very eyes, with no thought on plot or characters. They came to me as the story unfolded.
Tell us about the new character in Finding Home.
Abigail was an interesting girl that intrigued me, what a child thinks or how we respond to loss and how long we hold it, and finding something to break the cycle somehow. Writing from a child’s perspective, allows me to write freely about ideas or emotions from a more open perspective than an adult. The ‘what if’ of a child proves easier to write about than the educated knowledge of the adult.
Abigail’s strength and stubborn attitude allows depth and color into the story. Having her overcome a loss of parents and finding strength in tomorrow. Having the support to find her way out, and her courage to walk through that door and into a new chapter of life.
Why did you set the trilogy in Oregon? What is your tie to the land?
I grew up in Oregon, Baker City and that is where happy childhood memories began, so it felt fitting to create my story where I was most happy.
What do you want readers to take away with them after reading your trilogy?
I think have courage to overcome trials and challenges. Finding inner strength and face adversity.
Tell us about the next book in this trilogy.
The third book that I am currently working on for the trilogy is called, From the Heart. I feel that the Cason family is a healing family and people are drawn to them for support along their journey. When Lilly, an autistic child comes into Paige’s life, Paige begins a journey beyond western horses and into an adventure of horses and healing in a western theme.
In the Unspoken series, I’ve touched on cutting horses, ranch horses and pleasure horses. In From the Heart you will meet some interesting characters including a one eyed draft horse called Babe.
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